Laura Begley Bloom – Executive Editor, Yahoo Travel
Kids who grew up in the pre-digital age remember when travel may have meant being crammed into a wood-paneled station wagon, wandering across middle-of-nowhere roads with endless pages of an outsized map atlas blowing in the wind. Not to mention, tourism stops that never quite reflected the images in the pit stop brochure and perhaps an overly assured father who, of course, refuses to stop for directions. Fortunately with modern connectivity, many frustrations of ‘old-school travel’ can now be avoided through online planning and research, much of the content authored by the astute explorers in travel media. Veteran travel journalist Laura Begley Bloom is one such guide as the new executive editor of Yahoo Travel as of late April 2014.
Previously the deputy editor of Travel + Leisure, Begley Bloom has been covering destinations since the early days of her career at Brides Magazine, where she began a shift into travel writing by covering honeymoons. With nearly two decades at T + L, travel clearly has a particular hold over Begley Bloom, which she attributes to her parents.
“I am obsessed with travel,” she said. “Growing up, my family didn’t have tons of money, but my parents took us on trips whenever they could. They believed that by introducing children to the world, they would be more well-rounded people.”
This inclusive perspective is one Begley Bloom still holds dear, as she describes the importance of travel-centered journalism and travel in general.
“The wonderful thing about travel is that it touches so many areas of passion for so many people – it’s not just about getting on a plane, it’s also about arts and culture, food, fashion, beauty, music, current events. Any topic you can think of falls under the travel umbrella.”
Considering this breadth of view, Yahoo seems to be the perfect fit for Begley Bloom, as the recently relaunched travel vertical is more than just an online travel magazine; it’s a completely converged medium for the travel audience, which she describes as “ultimate travel destination.”
The innovation made possible with Yahoo Travel is part of why Begley Bloom chose to transition over. She points out that while Travel + Leisure is regarded primarily as a print brand, she still utilized a multi-platform approach. Making the move to an all-digital medium was then a logical step as she denotes Yahoo Travel’s unique virtues in that milieu.
“What sets Yahoo Travel apart is that it is more than just a website – Yahoo Travel is the world’s leading resource with a multi-pronged approach to travel. We allow you to dream, see, share, book and go. Our content inspires and entertains, delivers practical knowledge to spur you to action, provides a place to connect with a worldwide network of engaged travelers and brings the world to you,” she explained.
Social media in particular is a crucial aspect of modern storytelling in Begley Bloom’s summation, particularly for Yahoo Travel, as it emphasizes the two-way street between storyteller and audience. “The important thing is that our site cares about the reader and stays in close touch,” she said. “We have the ability to be engaged in ways that travel journalists haven’t been in the past.”
Begley Bloom is also aware of her audience’s breadth, and pointed out that “it’s not just one cookie-cutter reader. We transcend boundaries and have a readership with diverse interests. What I love is the ability to be inclusive and to create different kinds of stories that appeal to different readers.”
This fresh approach to bulking up Yahoo Travel’s content supports the ability of modern media to evolve itself, which becomes ever more crucial for an outlet’s survival. Though it was first launched in 1997, original and curated content has been prioritized, as Begley Bloom described. “At the core of what we do is great storytelling and insider travel knowledge that helps people explore the world, whether you’re traveling with your family, as a couple, alone, with a small or large budget.”
According to an April 2014 survey by TripAdvisor’s TripBarometer, 89 percent of travelers identify reviews as essential to planning. So user-friendly, one-stop shop sites like Yahoo Travel are more in demand than ever, as the majority of those surveyed preferred online travel reviews to personal recommendations. Never again do we have to endure wind-blown atlases and directions-phobic fathers.
Begley Bloom welcomes travel tips and pitches, preferring to receive them via email, saying that method is preferred over social media contact. Emails that will catch her eye contain “good ideas, news, and information—not gimmicks,” she explained. “My greatest advice is to read Yahoo Travel and to take note of what we have done. There’s nothing worse than someone who pitches you the same story that you just ran a few days prior. That’s sloppy.”
Begley Bloom cautioned against a few practices. “My biggest pet peeve is when publicists ask what I’m looking for or what I’m working on. Where do I even begin?” she wondered. Adding, “and in this new era of content creation, the easier that you can make my life- the better. Don’t create a password-protected media area on your website. Why wouldn’t you want a journalist to have easy access to your photos and press releases?”
With regard to travel photography, don’t be generic. “Would someone please banish bad PR photography and stop hiring those photographers who take stiff, brochure-worthy pictures?” Begley Bloom asks. “Beautiful, editorial-quality photography goes a long way. As does good, clean, informative writing that gets your message out.”
Photo courtesy of Yahoo Travel
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